Incline Village resident John Lippert is a lucky man — and he is not alone.
Lippert, who was running in the Boston Marathon on Monday, was just a couple hundred yards from the finish line when the first bomb went off, but wasn’t injured in that blast or the one that followed moments later.
“There were a thousand ways I could have been at the finish line earlier,” he said Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview, as he waited to board his returning flight from Boston.
When the first bomb went off, he said his first thought was, “Gee-whiz, what a loud explosion,” thinking it must have been part of the festivities.
It was the detonation of the second bomb, which he was closer to, that “stopped me in my tracks,” Lippert said.
Lippert said he knew “something bad was going on” when he saw several runners from the finish line running toward him after the second explosion.
The two explosions near the marathon’s finish line killed three people — including an 8-year-old boy — and injured more than 170, according to news reports.
Crystal Betts of Truckee, who also was running the race that day, had already crossed the finish line seven minutes earlier and was about 300 feet away when the first bomb went off. She said her mission was to check on her husband, since he traveled with her to Boston and they had discussed the night before that he would try to get near the finish line to take pictures. Both Betts and her husband are OK.
“I’m grateful,” she said, adding that if she had made different decisions during the race, she could have been closer when it happened.
According to the Boston Marathon entry list, another Truckee resident was registered for the race but could not be reached before press time. On the South Shore, three South Lake Tahoe residents who were competing in the marathon are also unharmed after witnessing Monday’s event.
Les Wright, organizer of the Lake Tahoe Marathon, and his wife were standing yards from the finish line waiting for their friend Kristin Blocher to complete the marathon when the two bombs went off.
“We felt the concussions, saw the smoke. It rocks your body. The first thing I thought was, ‘What are they doing shooting off cannons?,” Wright said Monday. Shandi Ashmore, another South Lake Tahoe runner registered for the marathon, injured her foot and did not race, Wright said.
Blocher, a South Tahoe High School alumnus, was about 100 yards from the finish line when the first bomb detonated. Blocher said she and many of the other runners immediately veered to the right away from the explosions.
“I was in between the bombs. I saw the first one go off and I thought it was a poorly-placed celebratory cannon blast... I was very lucky. People were screaming and crying. They were very scared,” Blocher said.
Blocher, who was running in the Boston Marathon for the second year in a row, said medical teams were on site aiding victims within seconds.
“I was amazed by the phenomenal response by people to the needs of others. I’m sure I’ll be more in shock when I’m less exhausted. Now I just want people to pray for the families that lost loved ones,” she said.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the bombs were made from kitchen pressure cookers, packed with nails and other shrapnel, hidden in duffle bags left on the ground.
President Barack Obama described the event as an “act of terrorism” in a public address Tuesday.
The Boston Marathon drew 23,000 runners this year, according to the Associated Press.